NASHVILLE, Tenn.Michelin Americas Truck Tires is spreading its wings, setting up a network of affiliated commercial vehicle service providers in the U.S. to go after what it sees as a growing business opportunity to provide scheduled maintenance and mechanical services to trucking fleets.
The program, dubbed Michelin Truck Care, will cover basic mechanical maintenance services like brakes, wheel end, fluids, electrical and other light repairs, services that fleets have been looking to outsource for some time, according to Bruce Stockton, manager of the Truck Care program.
The Greenville, S.C.-based tire maker is pledging to have more than 100 Truck Care service locations in operation throughout the U.S. by year-end on its way to a nationwide network of 300 locations by 2016, Mr. Stockton added.
Today's demanding fleet operations require high-quality, consistent mechanical and tire service, whether at home or on the road, said Vic Koelsch, chief operating officer, Michelin Americas Truck Tires division.
Michelin estimates service work on over-the-road trucks is a $70 billion-a-year business. This program seeks to tap into just a fraction of that, Mr. Stockton said.
The Truck Care concept is designed to take advantage of an evolving trucking industry, Mr. Stockton said, where fleets' operating footprints are changing more rapidly as contracts come and go. Truck Care also should appeal to fleets that are considering broadening their footprints, he added, since they could move quickly on new opportunities without having to worry about setting up their own maintenance facilities in new areas.
In addition, Michelin Truck Care is designed to interface directly with fleets' asset management systems, eliminating paperwork while improving managerial confidence, Mr. Koelsch said.
Michelin is planning to build the Truck Care network primarily through its existing Michelin Commercial Service Network.
Dealers already committed to the Michelin Truck Care program are: Allied Tire & Oil, Omaha, Neb.; Colony Tire Co., Edenton, N.C.; Raben Tire Co. Inc., Evansville, Ind.; Snider Fleet Solutions, Greensboro, N.C.; Service Tire Truck Centers Inc., Bethlehem, Pa.; Shrader Tire & Oil Co., Toledo, Ohio; Valley Tire Co. Inc., Charleroi, Pa.; and Ziegler Tire & Supply Co., Massillon, Ohio, along with Michelin's TCi Tire Centers L.L.C. subsidiary.
Together these businesses comprise more than 240 service locations, primarily in the eastern U.S., but most will not designate all of their outlets for the Truck Care network, Mr. Stockton said. Michelin intends to take the program to Canada as well, Mr. Stockton said, but not before it's well on its way to its goal of 300 outlets in the U.S.
Michelin unveiled the program at the American Trucking Associations' Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) meeting and trade show the week of March 10 in Nashville after roughly three years of preparation.
Mr. Stockton said dealers wishing to be part of Truck Care must be able to dedicate one service bay and one mobile truck at each location to be certified. He estimated dealers might have to budget up to $100,000 per designated outlet to ensure they have the proper equipment and trained personnel.
The service centers in the network will be run by experienced fleet maintenance managers and technicians who follow TMC-recommended repair practices, Michelin said.
Among the services the tire maker said the program will encompass are:
c Mobile maintenance visits;
c An integrated fleet maintenance system;
c The assurance of high quality parts; and
c Consistent nationwide pricing.
Michelin claims the new service will provide fleet managers with the tools to manage their maintenance expertly, control costs and be assured the job will be done properly, while reducing the time needed to gather data.
Some specific services offered include: Preventive maintenance (PM) for tractors and trailers, including oil, lube and filter service; annual Department of Transportation inspections; electrical repair, including lights, charging and starting; brake adjustments, repair and replacement; wheel-end work, including seals and bearings; suspension repair and re-placement; minor body repair to trailers and other service repairs; and reefer PM services.
Michelin will audit the procedures and services to ensure standardized quality throughout the network, the company said, as well as consistent parts and labor pricing, using the industry's standardized VMRS (Vehicle Maintenance Repair Standard) pricing model.
Audits may take place as often as annually, Mr. Stockton said. A national warranty backs all parts and labor.
The Truck Care program's integrated systems are powered by TMW Systems Inc., Michelin said, and thus can help fleets manage their data or feed the data automatically to their maintenance databases, regardless of the fleet's software.
The TMW system also interfaces with Michelin's national account billing system, so fleets receive the same prices nationwide, Michelin said, and allows access to repairs, complete maintenance records and billing 24/7.
In addition, fleet dashboard analytics provide up-to-date maintenance visibility and historical analysis.
Truck Care sets a new standard for nationwide, outsourced fleet maintenance programs, providing online fleet dashboards and digital data exchange for service activities and history, said Michael August, senior vice president and general manager, TMW Asset Maintenance Software and TMW Cloud Services.